Superintendent salaries on par with state average in Butler County
School superintendents in Butler County earn salaries that range from slightly more than $100,000 to a high of about $178,000, with the average falling close to the average for school superintendents across Pennsylvania.
According to the state Department of Education, the average salary for a Pennsylvania superintendent was $131,565 as of October, the most current statewide data available.
The average superintendent salary for the nine school districts that cover Butler County was $133,896 as of October.
With many districts starting classes next week, several school officials said paying a superintendent can be a balancing act between attracting good talent while being mindful of tightening state subsidies and wanting to avoid tax increases.
“School districts are trying to operate more cost-effectively,” said Jim Buckheit, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, which helps negotiate superintendent salaries.
School superintendents are the chief administrative officers of school districts and supervise matters related to instruction as directed by the school board, according to the Pennsylvania School Code.
“Everybody wants to earn a big paycheck,” said James Budzilek, incoming superintendent of Mars Area. “But you also have to be very cognizant of taxpayers' money.”
Candidates have to complete a graduate-level program, though not necessarily possess a doctorate, and be certified as superintendent-eligible by the state.
At the top of the scale in Butler County is outgoing Mars Area School Superintendent William Pettigrew, with more than 26 years as leader of the district that enrolls about 3,200 students.
Pettigrew, who is set to retire on Dec. 1, earns about $178,000 annually, according to records supplied by individual school districts to the Tribune-Review and by the state Department of Education.
Allegheny-Clarion Valley Superintendent David McDeavitt sits at the low end.
He was promoted from high school principal to superintendent in 2012 at a salary of $98,500 and will make about $102,000 this school year. The district has 720 students.
With Pettigrew's retirement, Seneca Valley Superintendent Tracy Vitale, earning more than $171,000, will be the highest-paid superintendent in Butler County. She had been an assistant superintendent before being named as superintendent in 2011. The district has about 7,300 students.
Pettigrew said when he started in education 44 years ago, he made $6,860 a year as a teacher.
“I've earned (the salary) over the years,” Pettigrew said. “People have to understand these jobs are not 9 to 5. They are 24 hours a day, weekends, holidays.”
Budzilek, who joined the district on Aug. 5 as assistant to Pettigrew, will succeed him as superintendent on Dec. 1.
He will earn $138,000 through June 30.
According to his contract, he'll receive a 3 percent annual raise, starting with the 2014-2015 school year, and is entitled to an additional 1 percent based on job performance.
Budzilek had been superintendent at the Leechburg School District for nine years, where he earned about $120,000.
Mars received 24 applications for the post, said J. Dayle Ferguson, president of the Mars Area School District.
Budzilek, as does Pettigrew, has a doctorate in education.
“The pool of superintendents in the state is shrinking,” Ferguson said. “We were pleased to find such a highly qualified and experienced superintendent (Budzilek), and we made him what we believed to be a fair offer.”
Vitale had been an assistant superintendent at Seneca Valley before being named as superintendent in 2011. She joined the school district in 2002 and has a doctorate in education from the University of Pittsburgh.
“I would say that Dr. Vitale is being paid in accordance with other superintendents of like school districts of similar sizes, attendance and issues,” said school board President Robert Hill Jr.
“We looked at things locally and made an offer that would be commensurate with what we felt would be fair. We wanted to make Dr. Vitale know we were making a long-term commitment and were serious about our offer as well.”
Attempts to reach Vitale for comment were not successful.
Buckheit said he has watched starting salaries for incoming superintendents shrink over the years, which he sees as a reflection of school districts grappling with tight budgets and some of them choosing less experienced candidates than in the past.
“Maybe before they spent more to get someone with more experience, but today, some school districts, especially smaller ones, are agreeing to compromise. They're hoping the person without the experience is able to perform the job,” he said.
Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Cranberry stretch among roads in Butler County to be repaired
- Butler County’s burgeoning tourism industry provides economic boost
- Uncertainty over Pa. state budget trickles down to school districts
- Slippery Rock program connects preschoolers with music
- Center VA clinic developer moves to ease traffic concerns
- Plan to build Butler duplex for homeless veterans shelved
- With new financial backing, future looks bright for BlueSox
- Newsmaker: Barbara Billek-Sawhney